Kevin Harvick was the only non-Toyota and the only non-Joe Gibbs Racing driver left in the hunt for the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series Championship heading into Sunday’s title-deciding Ford EcoBoost 400 at Miami-Homestead.
Unfortunately, the Stewart-Haas driver didn’t have what it took to compete with the ever-dominant JGR entries, with the No. 4 Ford lacking the long-run pace of eventual race and championship winner Kyle Busch as well as his teammates, Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. Post-race, Harvick said that he probably would have only had a shot at the win if more cautions had come out in Stage 3, as his Ford consistently fell off the front runners under long green-flag runs.
”We just needed to do something different,” Harvick told NASCAR. ”Those guys, they were so much better than us on the long run. Really our best chance was to have a caution there at the end and never got one.”
”Just no cautions and nothing happening,” he added. ”When that happens, you know, you just get spread out.”
Busch essentially cruised to his second title, with the No. 18 Toyota coming alive once the sun went down and brought about cooler track conditions. He crossed the finish line nearly five seconds ahead of the runner-up No. 19 Toyota of Truex – though Truex may have been much closer come Stage 3 if it weren’t for a catastrophic error by his pit crew in Stage 2.
Pitting under green-flag conditions for his second stop of the night, Truex’s crew got his front left and right front tires switched around – ruining the handling of his race car and forcing him to take a second, unscheduled stop to switch them back around. This left the No. 19 a full lap down from the leaders. He recovered well to move his way back into second and eventually began to hunt Busch down, but ran out of laps to catch his JGR teammate.
Denny Hamlin was also taken out of contention after his No. 11 crew applied too much tape to his grille during a pit stop in Stage 3, causing his Toyota Camry to overheat. He was forced to take an unscheduled pit stop to have it removed and finished 10th overall.
Catch all the highlights from the 2019 NASCAR title race in the video embedded below.